Why you should CARE about microinsurance

We have written about microinsurance before, including SKS’s Vikram Akula’s decision to develop a product for his customers. Now, Bajaj-Allianz and CARE India will be developing a product of their own. In an interesting partnership between the charity and a commercial company, this venture will aim to help individuals substantially improve livelihoods through the safety net insurance can provide. On Allianz’s site there is a great interview with RN Mohanty, Chief Operating Officer, CARE India, speaking to this new partnership. Here is an excerpt:

The biggest challenge was definitely educating people that risk protection is an important part of their lives. We do this because we want to inculcate a culture of savings with the community, not just insuring for the time being. The general mindset in rural India is that unless you get something out of it immediately it is not worth investing. If you look at our client list, close to 90 percent are first-time insurers.

The rest of the interview can be read here.

SKS to insert ads in passbooks

The company has given its old black-and-white passbook a colourful facelift, using glossy paper, at once reaching out to its depositors and opening up a new revenue stream — through advertisements.

And with that simple modification, SKS Microfinance’s leader Vikram Akula has managed to address multiple problems at once. First the addition of color and gloss sends a strong signal that even the poorest people deserve high quality goods and services. And second, it provides an efficient means to have rural advertising. [Source: Sify.com]

SKS getting closer to an IPO?

The Economic Times reports that SKS is planning to infuse Rs. 130 crores additional equity into the company to support its aggressive expansion plans [via Microcapital]. Here is the quote from the story:

“Our investors will infuse Rs 130 crore later this year on a pro-rata basis. We may plan to induct a new investor since we’ll be needing more capital next year and it cannot be generated internally. At this stage, it is not clear how much stake we will offload. We will also not exclude the possibility of a public issue,” Vikram Akula, founder and CEO, SKS Microfinance told ET

If SKS goes public, it will become the first Indian microfinance lender to do so.

Note: One of the TC-I editors had previously discussed the implications of SKS going public in this popular op-ed piece.

Headlines Digest

  • Microfinance: SKS Microfinance is getting serious about microinsurance, by partnering with Bajaj Allianz to provide coverage to its members. Also, ACCESS Development Services will be providing intensive capacity building support to MFIs in India, and access to loans from European cjompanies. The project is partially funded by the European commission [both stories via Microcapital]
  • Healthcare: iGovernment reports that Government of India has approved Mobile Medical Units (MMUs) – one per each district, in order to expand access to health-care in rural areas. Also, Marginal Revolution highlights that estimated ratio of real doctors to fake doctors practicing medicine in Delhi – 1:1
  • Technology: Pune based company called Remote Data Exchange has developed a device called ‘Jai Kisan’, using which farmers can remotely control motor pumps using mobile phones. Its just unbelievable you can do with a mobile phone these days (even eradicate Poverty!)

A Look Back on the Week

To help our readers better digest the prolific number of posts that appear throughout a given week, the ThinkChange India team will be providing weekly recaps on what posts garnered the most interest and also we will highlight some older posts that we feel deserve to be featured again.

From Sunday to Sunday — The Top Posts of the Week

  1. Santosh wrote on the development of a new social capital exchange. (62 views)
  2. A post by Prerna on For Love of Water (FLOW) enjoyed the second spot this week. (40 views)
  3. Shital’s reporting on women barefoot solar engineers also got much attention this week. (31 views)

Highlighted Jobs, Internships and Other Opportunities

  1. SKS Hyderbad is soliciting applications for a summer intern and Program Director. (31 views)
  2. An internship for Source for Change also gained noticeable attention this week. (30 views)
  3. Another post on an essay competition on climate change and health also received some focus by our readers this week. (29 views)

Reaching into the Archives

In this section we will link back to an older post that we believe deserves to be featured one more time.

Fresh off of the launch of ThinkChange India, Vinay wrote an Op-Ed on the value of having both arrogance and humility with regard to being a social entrepreneur. The post originally was published on March 3, 2008. (106 views)

We hope that these weekly recaps will help you better navigate our site and to make it even easier for our readers to keep up with everything exciting that is going on in India. Also, as always, we encourage all of you to keep commenting and participating as that is the best feedback to make sure we are doing a good job.

Best,

The ThinkChange India Team

Op-Ed: Microfinance revisited and its role in reaching the missing middle

Two weeks ago I wrote about James Surowiecki’s article in the New Yorker that brought forward the inherent limitations of microfinance to actually generate a substantial number of jobs in a developing country. Since then it seems as if I was not the only one (surprise surprise) to take notice of Surowieki’s conclusions and it has even brought pioneers like Acumen Fund‘s CEO

Novogratz gave some credit to Surowiecki’s argument that not everyone in society is an entrepreneur and that in fact most people simply want a predictable, stable job with defined roles. Novogratz, however, distinguished her stance through her anectdotal experience with women’s access to credit and how throughout her experience they have overwhelmingly been favorable towards it. She says that this desire for credit provides the rest of us with critical lessons on how to address poverty.

However, the desire for credit on its own in no way makes someone an entrepreneur. Every teenager in America has an affinity for credit, but just because they are willing to spend that money somewhere does not make them some sort of innovator. Likewise, Surowieki’s argument highlights that for the most part microloans are not utilized for business expansion, but rather they help tide businesses over during rougher times, a la a bridge financing round. These funds like simple credit cards are used to cover funds that someone has already spent before — not towards future capital investments. It is that ability to reinvest ones funds towards scalability and expansion that is truly entrepreneurial.

Continue reading

Two leading social entrepreneurs seletected as 2008 WEF Young Global Leaders

On 11th March, the World Economic Forum announced the 2008 Young Global Leadership honorees. According to the WEF:

This honour is bestowed each year by the World Economic Forum to recognize and acknowledge the top 200-300 young leaders from around the world for their professional accomplishments, commitment to society and potential to contribute to shaping the future of the world

This year’s honorees from India include two leading Social Entrepreneurs, Vikram Akula and CV Madhukar. They share the honor with other prominent Indians from diverse fields. You can find the entire list here

Vikram Akula is the founder of SKS, widely considered as one of the fastest growing microfinance organizations in the world. C V Madhukar is the founder of PRS Legislative Research. The PRS website describes the organization as:

PRS Legislative Research is an independent research initiative that aims to strengthen the legislative debate by making it better informed, more transparent and participatory. PRS is the first initiative of its kind in India.

Clearly, Social Entrepreneurs both in India and around the world are increasingly getting recognized for their cutting edge work in help solving some of the worlds toughest problems.